The Exorcist Premiere Recap: Was It Devilishly Good or Hellishly Bad?

From spinning heads to Satanic Cujos, the premiere of The Exorcist conjured up pretty much everything you’d expect from a series version of the classic movie. (Well, no pea soup — yet.) But did the Fox drama possess enough thrills to keep you coming back for more? Let’s review the set-up, then you can grade the hour below and hit the comments to add your critique to ours.

OUR FATHER | Early on, we met Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera), a Chicago priest who sermonizes at St. Anthony’s with enough sex appeal and charisma to be under contract at The CW. When not deflecting his sister’s questions about why he’s been corresponding with his married old flame — by sneaky snail mail, no less! — he offered counsel to parishioner Angela Rance (Geena Davis), who had drawn the wholly logical conclusion that teen daughter Kat (Brianne Howey) wasn’t just sulking because a friend had died. She was sulking because she was possessed by a demon. And no, Angela isn’t crazy, she hastened to add. She couldn’t be, because, as she noted, she has 400 employees. (In that case… !) When Father Tomas finally gave up trying to explain that demons weren’t real and agreed to meet with Kat, whad’ya know? A crow committed suicide by flying smack into the window. (Was it an omen? No, wait — that’s a different show/film.)

the-exorcist-season-1-episode-1-ben-daniels‘BEYOND PROTOCOL’ | Meanwhile, in Mexico City, renegade exorcist Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) was being chewed out on behalf of the Vatican by a Father Bennett (Kurt Egyiawan) for going incommunicado for nearly a month. Mind you, that turned out to be “pleasantries” compared to what followed. When Father Bennett saw that not only had Father Marcus failed to cast out the demon in young Gabriel, but that the boy looked practically dead, the latter priest pulled a gun on the former to prevent him from taking the little devil to the hospital. And, make no mistake, Father Marcus would shoot. “Without hesitation,” he added. Later, as the exorcist resumed his work on the moppet, Father Tomas curiously witnessed everything as if he was in the room with them.

DINNER AND A SHOW | When Father Tomas visited the Rance home to do his best Reverend TimTom with Kat, the girl assured him — and pretty convincingly, too — that she wasn’t possessed. Her mom had simply gone mental because the teen had “liked [her] friend’s stupid Wiccan craft store on Facebook.” Over meatloaf with the family, the priest tried in vain to strike up a conversation with Angela’s husband Henry (Alan Ruck), who was suffering from some cognitive impairment that Kat cruelly suggested had turned him into “basically a potato.” After Father Tomas put the brat in her place, Henry experienced what seemed to be a moment of lucidity, telling him where to find St. Aquinas — and Father Marcus. And pfft! In a flash, the moment passed as if it had never happened.

IT TAKES TWO? | Following another vision of Father Marcus’ exorcism of Gabriel — this one featuring the demon striking the priest and snapping the boy’s neck! — Father Tomas tracked down his peer at St. Aquinas. After awkwardly making the acquaintance of blind (?) Brother Simon (Francis Guinan) — whose freaky eyes resembled Gabriel’s — Father Tomas confessed to Father Marcus that he’d “seen” his efforts with the youngster. Once convinced that Father Tomas was on the level, Father Marcus warned him that he was being manipulated by otherworldly forces. Worse, “they’re gonna love you.” That evening, Father Tomas confided in Angela that he’d never heard God calling him to be a priest. But he did think God had called him to help her family. Right on cue, they heard a noise upstairs. Way upstairs.

the-exorcist-season-1-episode-1-hannah-kasulka-caseyCOULD IT BE… SATAN?!? | In the attic, Father Tomas expected to find Kat. Instead, the creepy girl who killed a rat and scared the bejesus out of him was her sweet little sister, Casey (Hannah Kasulka). Of course, as soon as Angela made it up the stairs, her younger daughter didn’t look or behave like she was possessed anymore. All she did was suggest that they put out some traps for the demons vermin, since “don’t they say where there’s one, there’s probably a whole bunch?” (See also: Cinemax’s Outcast.) Finally, as Father Tomas disposed of the rat’s body outside, “Tubular Bells” (chilling as ever!) began playing, and Casey smiled from the window. Game on.

So what did you think of the premiere? Grade it below, then hit the comments with your review.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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40 Comments
  1. Dave says:

    This was actually good. And actually scary. Why was it relegated to the death night and time?

    • CGS says:

      Given the state of broadcast ratings these days, I’m pretty sure Fox’s hope is that it will simply do a little better on Friday than what’s normal. They have been promoting very heavily. I’d say if it can average a 1.0 or 0.9 it will get renewed for a second season.

  2. Mary says:

    Terrific show. Some of the F scores coming from some disgruntled folks with Jeremy Slater but they’ll start washing. Ben Daniels was superb.

  3. AngelWasHere says:

    I didn’t like it. I gave it a Z for zzzz. In all seriousness, I don’t think I’m a fan of these possession shows. Outcast didn’t appeal to me either.

  4. Anna says:

    I always see comments of people not liking horror or these type of shows. If you don’t like it, why watch it and then give it a bad grade ??? It’s called “The Exorcist” for a flipping reason.

  5. Ken says:

    I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. Scary, creepy, stylish, with memorable scenes and a great finale. The show did what any movie-to-tv version should do- create a believable world with their own myths and history. I can’t wait to see where they go with this.

  6. Kendall says:

    I though it was really good, and the cast was great I’ll keep watching!!!

  7. Suso says:

    Such a pleasant surprise! Every scene was just a little smarter than it had to be, visually it was inventive and creepy and the acting was top notch. I had no expectations but now I can’t wait for more!

  8. Jim J. says:

    Based on the positive comments, I can’t believe I decided to boycott this series all because it’s produced by 20th Century Fox instead of Warner Bros.. Granted, I just found out some time ago that 20th Century Fox did distribute “The Exorcist III”, which came out in 1990, but some distribution rights would later revert to Warner Bros., who owns the “The Exorcist” franchise.

    • Eran says:

      This is what you base your viewing choices on???

      • Jim J. says:

        In this day and age, the U.S. broadcast networks have been favoring shows produced by their sibling or in-house production companies. I assume 20th Century Fox is producing this “The Exorcist” TV adaptation because if it were produced by Warner Bros. TV (an “outside studio”), it’ll be easier for the Fox Network to cancel it then. This issue about program ownership by networks is why I have to be careful about which studio produces a network TV show.

  9. Shaun says:

    I think that it was very good, with a lot of potential for more. If there is one weakness, I think it is establishing why Angela Rance believed that there was a “demon” in her house – that’s pretty specific and much of what she described could have been explained, say, by a poltergeist. What I mean is that if we allow that Angela has been at home with her recovering daughter for months and that, in that time, it has become increasingly evident that something weird is going on, and that she does her internet research and comes up with a cause, “demon” is not the most likely supernatural cause. But that’s nitpicking and maybe other, more intangible things clued her into what was going on. I do like that Father Tomas was so fast to believe her precisely because his dreams about the demonic possession of Gabriel have already started and make him more disposed to accept the signs that are being sent to him. At this point, however, it certainly looks as though the forces manipulating Father Tomas are more satanic than heavenly – the blind priest (whose name we never got) being an example. In the original movie, the demon possessing Regan does everything that it does in order to set up its next confrontation with Father Merrin – everyone else, including Regan and Father Karras, are pawns in its larger plan to have a rematch with the priest who exorcised it decades before. If the TV show follows the same idea, then the demon (demons?) possessing the Rance household may be going after Father Marcus, perhaps to continue the battle that started in Mexico.

  10. NolaNola says:

    How many Episodes???? Thanks

  11. Jared says:

    I actually liked The Exorcist way more than I originally thought I would. The slower pace kind of worked in its favor so I’ll definitely be back next week.

  12. Sarah96 says:

    What a creepy and unsettling premiere, I don’t get what all the the bad reviews were on about, yes it was a bit slow but I didn’t expect some crazy action and everything to be shown in the first episode lol so for me it was very satisfying and I can’t wait for more.

  13. jenndeve says:

    Had some good scares. Intrigued to see how it goes this season. Enjoyed the introduction of Father Tomas and Father Marcus. When that iconic music hit though….seriously gave me the chills.

  14. Donna Salvi says:

    I hope this show gets more viewers. I really enjoyed it and think it is only going to get better. When the music from the movie came on at the end, I got chills. The movie has always been a favorite.

  15. Jono says:

    Really enjoyed it, lots of potential. Liked the twist with who’s possessed. Good sfx, a few genuine scares and great to see geena davis on my tv again

  16. DStrauder says:

    Very moody and stylishly done. Just enough shock without relying too heavily on gore. Wasn’t expecting the younger daughter to be involved. Nice and spooky scene in the attic. Plan on watching next week.

  17. MTB says:

    Effing a right! That was good and the hair was standing up! Bring it!

  18. Lorie says:

    This was way better than I expected. I didn’t plan to watch it, but I’m glad I did. Can’t wait for next week!

  19. RosanneOfTheDarkRealm says:

    I voted Awesome. This pilot was wonderful and I want to rewatch it and will be watching the series. Great acting, atmosphere, and I like the story. I love seeing Geena Davis again, looking cool as ever. We are the same age and this summer I went blonde too! I loved the two priests; wonderful actors. The crow scene was searing. Very omen-like and sad too. I cheered when Father Tomas put Kat in her place at dinner. Scary ending in the attic. The Tubular Bells music that chilled us all was just a big cherry on top of the cake.

  20. Val says:

    Finally a TV show that delivers horror. See excellent cast excellent script,excellent adaptation for television. If the writers and actor keep this up, there will be longevity and several years on television. Congratulations to all involved in bringing this adaptation of the film to television. I can’t wait to see the next episodes.

  21. BlittleU says:

    I only watched this because the trailer was decent and there wasn’t much else on. My expectations were pretty low, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. This had some scary moments and the acting was better then what is usually seen on shows like this. I’m in….until FOX inevitably cancels it.

  22. Kiwi3 says:

    Really enjoyed this, enough that my husband and I agreed to put it on our dvr series list.
    Although we both said we hoped it wouldn’t suffer the “Fox curse” and get randomly cancelled.

  23. Josh says:

    Genna Davis was awesome and so was the acting in general. I’m hooked and I was thrown when it looks like Casey is the one possessed… not her sister.

  24. Azockie says:

    FINALLY! A REAL Show for us Horror Movie, Paranormal loving Fanatics out here looking for a good one! THANKS!!

  25. Nicole10inglis@gmail.com says:

    When is it coming on

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  27. Ella Fitzgerald says:

    Love it !!

  28. Michael says:

    I really like this show….I was not expecting much, but wow. Top notch acting and pretty good writing. Sumthin’ is gonna happen real big with the Pope “Sebastian” coming to town…is there gonna be a Pope vs. Devil showdown….or…is the billboards promoting the Pope’s arrival stating: “He is coming” indicate that POPE SEBASTIAN is the Devil himself? This show…so far, so good!

  29. Amber says:

    The Exorcist is an awesome show, and a nice difference from all the same old stuff (police dramas, and super hero shows). I hope it doesn’t get cancelled.

  30. Claudia says:

    By the time the show was over I wanted more!! This is definitely my cup of tea! I Loved it!!

  31. Excelancy says:

    Geena Davis was great , casting doubt on the young priest was not needed. Catholics don,t like that stuff That’s Hollywood BS.

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